Concerned residents filled Banbury Town Hall yesterday evening (Monday) to help Oxfordshire County Council gauge which savings the public are willing to make to save an additional £61 million for the next five years.
The council leader Ian Hudspeth stressed throughout the meeting that no decisions had yet been made about which services would suffer cuts and urged people to provide suggestions on how to tackle the issue.
He said: “This is an awful amount of money and there are going to have to be some very tough decisions. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy so we have to work together to make sure we get the best deal possible.”
The hottest subject on the agenda was children’s services and at a quick show of hands, all spectators bar two were willing to increase their council tax bill by 4 per cent to help protect these.
Councillor Hudspeth said council tax bills would have to increase by 20 per cent to avoid any cuts in services, but
Perran Moon, of the Oxon School Bus Action Group (OSBAG), argued these figures were misleading.
He said: “The 20 per cent rise is over a four-year period, so only 5 per cent per year. These £61 million would be filled by these 5 per cent.”
Between 2010-2013, the county council has had to save £127 million and between 2013-2017 the target was originally £74 million, but this summer it was told it needed to find £61 million on top of that.
Last night’s meeting was the first of five meetings across Oxfordshire with the following ones taking place in Oxford, Wantage, Witney and Didcot.
The county council wants people to share their views online at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/talkingoxfordshire or by e-mailing email@example.com